Most marketers embrace the economists’ worldview – we are rational people who buy products to fulfill our needs and when confronted with choices we make rational decisions.
Unfortunately that is not always the case – if ever.
Our buying behavior is very much influenced by our social behavior, which in turn is mostly determined by hardwired reflexes. That is what makes it so hard to predict what will sell and what will not. We buy things because they make us look cool, intelligent or well informed. We buy things because our mirror neurons drive us to want to imitate others. We buy things even though we know they are not good for us, and we do not buy things that are proven to have a positive effect on our condition. We buy things without the latest bells and whistles because we hate change. We buy things because we want to belong.
When we buy things, we do not act as rational beings.
Sure, we buy things based on recommendations from others, and avoid things that people badmouth. But it goes further than that – we buy things based on the behavior of the people who bought the same product, and more importantly based on the behavior of others who are observing the original buyers. That is true for personal fashion items as well as for enterprise software solutions.
On the one hand, that makes it a heck of a challenge to predict winners and losers in the marketplace. On the other hand it provides marketers with an opportunity to incorporate expected social behavioral reactions to new products into the product innovation process…
What do you think? Have you seen good examples of that? Hindsight of course is 20/20…but who does it well as a predictor of success?